so what’s this groupon shit anyway?

18 02 2011

last year when groupon really busted onto the scene in maine, i must have gotten like 48 emails from friends and family members telling me that i should think/write/talk/pee my pants about it.

so i checked it out… and frankly, it left me a little limp (boner analogy intended).

now conceptually, i think it’s a great idea: 1 deal, limited time, limited avialabilty… the deep discount IS seductive, as is the fact that there needs to be enough people taking the deal in order for it to be valid.  but for some reason, i was expecting to be completely blown away, and i just wasn’t.

for example, today’s portland deal is a discount car wash.  i’m sure a lot of people are really enthusiastic about this with the salt/slush tornado that’s been going on here lately, but me, not so much. i suppose with a site like this, it is a bit optimistic for me to expect that the daily deal to appeal to me even the majority of the time… but to date, there has only been one deal that has even vaguely interested me ($10 at barnes & noble for $5). groupon just doesn’t have what i want.

that said, i should be thanking groupon for being so exceptionally copy-able. groupon clones have been shooting wildly from every orifice of the internet for the last year or so, and some of them actually do give me the discount boner that i so deeply desire (although many of them [sorry loonEdeals] could sill use A LOT of work). but what i’ve realized in the last year as i have slugged through the symphony of variations on groupon, is that for me, it’s not about the format that makes a site desireable to me, it’s what they’re selling.  groupon might be the most elegant of the deal sites, but if it only offers car washes and pricey spa treatments… i’m never going to buy.

i’ve made a small list of online deal sites below (of various ilks) that i’ve been enjoying lately, but there’s so many out there! what am i missing? Read the rest of this entry »

the shame of the parental hand out.

9 04 2010

i am one of 5 children (all girls in fact). growing up, this meant hardcore hand-me downs, crowded bathrooms, that my guidance counselor didn’t know my name (4 of us were in high school at the same time), and that when i graduated from high school (save for birthday gifts and helping pay for college), the hand-out money completely dried up. when you have that many kids, being both equitable and economical is tantamount. which isn’t to say that my parents are not loving and generous people.  it just means that my mom hasn’t slipped me a twenty since i was 17, and i’m ok with that. at this point in my life, i think it would actually be really weird and awkward.

and speaking of weird and awkward, here come the future in-laws! actually, i really love them. when i was married before, i always used to fantasize that my current in-laws were actually my now future in-laws (um… still sleep deprived- does that make sense?).  anyway, they’re great, but they are professional level money slippers. last week, we took them to po’ boys and pickles to thank them for being generally wonderful and generous of both their time and their money while we’ve been fixing up the ole condo (future-dad built us the most amazing dvd shelf). because when you really love someone, you say it with sticky toffee pudding.  anyhow, we basically had to wrestle them to the ground just to get them to let us pay. but THEN, they slipped the boyfriend a couple of twenties while i was in the bathroom! no matter what we do to try and show our gratitude, they immediately undo it as soon as i leave the room (they boyfriend is weak when it comes to free money).

so here’s today’s major dilemma: as you might already know, we need to materialize $3750 by june 1st to pay for our share of a new roof. we have the money, but it seriously depletes our savings cushion in a way that is both scary and uncomfortable. so obviously, we’re a bit stressed about it. the future-rents know about this, and of course at easter dinner…. out comes the checkbook. had there not been a giant ham there, i would have strongly considered throwing myself across the table to knock it out of their hands.  in hindsight, ham pants would have probably been a better option than taking the cash. it’s not enough to cover the whole thing, but it makes a SERIOUS DENT. which is great, but i feel really terrible about taking it, especially when i know we can afford to pay for it on our own. in my head, we’re grown-ups and we should sort out our financial issues together- not together with his parents.  there’s no way in hell that i can convince him to give it back. so now what? how do i say thank you? how do i not feel like i will always owe them something? how do i get them to stop!? am i being a complete spaz? should i just take the money and not give it another thought?

full of grace.

7 02 2010

so last night i finally paid grace a visit. it opened a while ago, but i’ve been sort of afraid to go inside. i mean who in portland is cocky enough to open a fine dining (aka high priced) restaurant in a down economy inside a giant converted church? admittedly, it is a pretty impressive renovation, although there’s a faux classiness that smacks of homegoods to me. wine cork napkin holders?! also, the silverware is terrible. my spoon looked more like a tiny shovel, and was completely ineffective in getting the soup from  bowl to mouth (which turned out not to be that much of a problem, but we’ll get there soon).

however, i could forgive the tackiness parading as high class if the food was good. i’d pay $50 for a meal in a burnt out gas station if it was delicious, but it was really crap. the lettuce in my salad had dirt in it. my cauliflower soup was so pureed that it had an unearthly slimy smoothness that i found to be utterly gross. my dessert was microscopic. who knows what kind of carrageenan xanthan gum bullshit was in the earl gray hot chocolate (which tasted like burning tires and old perfume btw) that made it thick and lumpy-gelatinous. and for some reason, everything (no matter how tiny) was served on plates so giant that it was completely impossible for me to eat both my salad and soup simultaneously. the only decent thing we had all night was the wine, and we all went home hungry. boo-urns.

and the entire time, i couldn’t stop thinking about how much my $10 dinner at po’ boys and pickles earlier in the week was so much better. so much better. the sweet potato fries were the best i’d ever had (sorry silly’s- too soggy!), they made me a meatless ruben with incredible fresh bread (and only charged me $3 for it), and the sticky toffee pudding was as good or better than any dessert that i’ve ever had at any restaurant in portland (including the tres leches cake at caiolas). dear po’ boys, please move on to the peninsula, and i will happily buy bigger/stretchier pants.

as much as i want to support all local businesses, if they don’t deliver, they don’t deliver.  food doesn’t taste better if the hostess ignores me, or because they make me taste the wine before they fill the glasses, or if they take away my salad fork just because i’m not having a salad. i don’t care how much you spent on the renovation. just give me something (anything) that tastes good, or me and my $43 aren’t ever coming back.

weekend pickthrough- local love edition

29 01 2010

can you say sticky toffee pudding?

oh linda bean, will you ever learn?

the broke socialite is gonna teach us all some manners.

in case you haven’t noticed, it’s mofo cold outside (-8 wind chill this morning). efficiency maine knows how to tell bloated heating costs to go screw.

if more portlandites don’t get into foursquare, i’m gonna be the mayor of everything!

could the salt institute be rocking any harder? check out beautiful & dangerous work by graham letorney and bask in their glow.

what modern girl doesn’t need at least one of these under the sink? (and for free!)

the only team i have ever actually wanted to join.

does anyone really make money taking online surveys? northern cheapskate gets the goods.

finally, an affordable way to be a patron of the arts.